Just how much packaging does a razor blade actually need?
Like everyone else who purchases electronics, I have a long history of wrestling with packaging.
Sure, I usually win and manage to wrest the mouse, smartphone, computer or whatever from its quadruple nest of plastic, cardboard, styrofoam, and more plastic packaging. But the struggle is intense and not without risk. Let’s face it, when you need to don protective gloves and safety goggles, and employ a skill saw and an Exacto knife to get at the object of your desire, you could lose a fingertip.
So I’m used to over-packaging.
But I didn’t really expect to find it when I bought a new razor and razor blades.
Now, I don’t want to imply that the Gillette Venus was hard to open. Degree of difficulty, especially when compared to electronics, was not much north of zero.
Still, there seemed to be an awful lot of packaging involved for one little old razor, and a 10-pack of blades.
Here’s my story:
I went to CVS to get blades for my trusty old razor, and they didn’t appear to carry them any longer. I say “appear” because they may well have been there. It’s just that the choices are so overwhelming – even if you train your eye to ignore the black and blue packaging that screams “guy”, and just focus on the girlie pinks, purples, turquoises, and soft greens. So if there were any Sensor Excel blades on the shelf, I missed them. As the razor is probably ten years old, I wasn’t exactly surprised.
So I bought me a new razor: a Gillette Venus.
I knew nothing about this product, other than that it was an okay blue, and that it’s from Gillette. Even though Gillette is now part of P&G, they’re still in Boston, and they’ll always be a home town honey to me. So when I buy shaving gear, I buy Gillette. (“The best a man [woman?] can get.”) Plus I must have been subliminally drawn to the packaging in some way. When I googled Venus packaging, I found a site devoted to all things packaging, and read:
Superior performance is fundamental to any successful product. But the right packaging is essential to transforming a product into a brand and creating a compelling and ownable position in the market. Gillette gained these insights through extensive discussions with women. Where men treat shaving as a daily ritual, women view it as a process of discovery to “make her feel her best,” says Mary Ann Pesce, President of the Gillette Co.’s Personal Care Group.
This revelation of the “beauty within” shaped the branding platform for Venus, with packaging color and graphics communicating the exhilaration of transformation and personal empowerment, Pesce says.
Process of discovery. Exhilaration of transformation and personal empowerment.
I like that.
Here I’ve been shaving my legs and underarms since I was 14 or so, and I wasn’t aware that every time I set blade to shin, I was in the process of discovery. Actually, I thought my only shaving related process of discovery occurred in my late teens, when – bold feminist that I was – I decided to grow some righteous feminist leg hair. Unfortunately, I’ve never had enough leg hair for righteous feminism. All I grew was a sad little ruff around the ankle, kind of like a truncated version of the Goons in Popeye.
And, once I got back to shaving, most of the exhilaration came if I managed to get through a shave without nicking my ankle, and ending up with a wad of toilet paper adhering to my wound.
But that was then, and this is now.
And in the now, I needed that new razor.
But, as everyone who spent a nano-second in business school knows, the razor’s the least of it. The blades are the thing.
And talk about packaging…
First, there was the part of packaging that I hadn’t even bargained for.
CVS has gone to a mostly self-service model, and I failed to notice, until I got home, that I’d walked out of the store with the blades sheathed in an impenetrable anti-theft package. Sure, the alarm had gone off when I left the store, but I thought, to hell with that: I paid.
Naturally, when I got home I realized that I would need to take a jackhammer to the outer package and, in the process (of discovery) would likely destroy the blades. So I had to truck on back to CVS to have the last human being working there release the inner blades. I bet that guy, with his special key, felt some personal empowerment. (And what’s with the anti-theft devices on razor blades? Do that many people shoplift them? I know they’re expensive, but…)
With my blades free at last, I was able to start in on the process of discovery that would culminate with my weekly shave.
First there was the outer package. Then there was the inner package. Then there was the individual package for each and every blade, which look and work exactly like the individual grape jellies you get with breakfast at a diner. Are they sealed for freshness? Just what’s being protected here? Personally, I’d rather have that little plastic tray loaded with blades that I can keep on rim of the bathtub. Which is what I had with my trusty old Gillette Sensor Excel. They’re all together, and they’re there when I need one.
These suckers. Just storing them is going to be pain. I guess I’ll put them in a ziplock baggie and alligator seal them for freshness.
There is an upshot to this, of course.
Just an hour or so ago, I was rummaging around the medicine cabinet and, lo and behold, found an untouched package of Sensor Excel blades. Simple, not over packaged, just the way I like them. Each blade nestled in the plastic tray, ready for me to snap it on to my razor.
What’s girl to do?
All this exhilarating process of transformation and personal empowerment, with the not particularly breathtaking payoff of “beauty within”, is just exhausting.